Monday, October 01, 2007

Freshers' Fair Photos

Girl was collecting wool for her dreads..

The jugglers were near our stall- a friendly crew despite the scary juggling knives they had..

mini jumpers ("egg cozies") to scatter about the stall and look cute.

Knitsoc news

Plans have changed slightly - Bikos is sadly not for daytime use this year so we'll be settling down in Concourse cafe in the refectory until the Powers that Be decide to reopen Bikos. It's still the same time Tuesday at 1. There are a few of you who were asking for another time- I might arrange another one if you tell when is good for you. It's not hard for me as I'm willing enough to knit at lunch and bring extra wool and needles along with me.

We were going to have a more settled plan of workshops every other week working through basic techniques but judging by the speed the beginners were learning last week- speeding through the first 3 workshops' worth of skills- i think we'll keep teaching the very basic stuff individually and do special stuff like sock making and colour-work in workshops.

Hopefully we'll be more successful in our Innocent Smoothie hat-making this year Make some and feel free to be adventurous- you may get to be Hat of the Week on their website. I know it's an exciting thought and my secret ambition- but i don't hold out much hope of beating the Army of Grannies they have making them already. Last year the end of the hat-making campaign was a Big Knit fest in a cafe in Arndale- if it's on again we can go..

Also I'm revolving vague plans of visiting a farm or spinning place and learning to spin our own yarn- I've been wanting to learn for ages, and it would be an adventure for the club. Anyone up for it? We could maybe do it during National Knitting Week in October. The Huge and Amazing yearly knitting pilgrimage that is the Knitting and Stitch Show in Alexandra Palace is about mid-October too. I don't know if I could arrange a trip but I wholly recommend it as an initiation into the unbelievable underworld of knitters and fabulous deelicious yarns.

Last year I also had a plan to get everyone to make one square of knitting to put together as a knitsoc blanket- so beginners could learn how to make a simple square and for us to have something to sit on outside and show off as a collective. Plus we could add to it over the years maybe until it grows insanely big.. Not enough people mastered casting-on to make this dream come true before- but I have high hopes for you lot :)

I'll also send you all an invite to our blog
Please do use it to write down your knitterly experiences- like if you got a random hug from a stranger on the train because your knitting endeared you to her so (it happens) I'm sad i didn't take a photo of us out on the grass last week- it would have made a pretty picture.

Now that I have unburdened my Knitsoc Chief 's soul I'll leave you in peace and hope to see you in Concourse on Tuesday!

Zeenat Azmi

fine yes I pasted it from the email- this goes out to all you knitsoccers whose emails bounced back..

Burridge Lake Love

New Magknits is up and I fell in love with this:

It'll take me a year but I need it- it's calling me..

Friday, September 07, 2007

Holiday post: Cambridge and Deathly Hallows

It's fully time that I posted at least a little of what I've been up to. Needs to be done before fresher's week and the Knitting and Stitch fair (wahay!) or it'll all be forgotten. Mrs Mawdesley used to insist that 'forgotten' was an insidious Americanism but I'm sure she was wrong. Also I need a clean slate for a new uni..

I've forgotten most of the detail of the accompanying stories but I hope the photos will suffice:

Cambridge- May Week knitting my poor Pomatomus.

Poor because that delightful sock wandered off somewhere in the vicinity of Claire's (spelling indicates junky accesories shop rather than noble and ancient college) I was stricken by the loss and would have given up the afternoon punt to retrace my steps- but after going halfway round town i found myself accepting my pomless fate. Perhaps some kind knitter found it and finished off its unravelling toe. I was more sad about losing half of my then irreplaceable knitpicks redwood forest yarn (now happily resolved by the magic of Ravelry); and that i no longer had anything to knit through all those Cambridge garden parties full of merry strangers, where a half-made mitten would've helped me glide over all those awkward social moments, providing an excuse to turn away during an uncomfortable pause, or desperately use up 10 minutes attempting to teach someone to cast on.

(Bikey I'm kidding your friends are lovely, I wasn't scared..)

The next thing I recall is over a month later- standing in line through the cold night in London for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Mad Cow, Ray and I stayed at Mrs C's the preceeding week painting her walls and listening to the Half Blood Prince audio book and fighting for Jelly Belly beans in endless Harry Potter quizzes. Ray and I get fiercely competitive- I wish I could apply my brain to syntactic structure the way I can to the exact physical description of Lord Voldy's hands (long fingers, white, like giant spiders, bean for every adjective)
I'd limited my HP knitting to a Gryffindor scarf for young Naomi- even though we've established that she's a true Hufflepuff the girl takes her Sorting as an insult. I would be happy to be deemed a Hufflepuff- it's all tolerance, hardworkingness, patience and other good stuff. The scarf wool was the rough stuff from my last post.

There were some giggly girls in front of us in the queue who got thirsty and abandoned one of their crew for Starbucks, which was cannily still open at 11pm. I was still knitting the Gryffindor scarf in the queue so I offered to teach the lonesome girl how to knit. A Danish lady watched my methods until she could bear them no longer and had to intervene with her Scandinavian skills. Our friendship with the Dane and her daughter flourished- I asked many ignorant questions about Denmark but made up for it by lending her shivering daughter my coat- and we passed the next 4 hours in the queue very happily.

Altogether the spirit of the queue was very like the good side of a protest or demo- all kinds of people lined up, dressed up and excited- collected by this one goal. The earnest discussions and Cow's impromptu juggling- even the honking/jeering cars that went by proclaiming spoilers and the huge cheers that went up everytime someone emerged from Waterstone's clutching their copy. It amazes me that all this patient but desperate waiting was for a book- we may have reached a new height of geekery by going, but i don't know if it'll happen like that again..

Ok I'm tired now-
last week I went to Sundae's Sunderland world- which is far lovelier than I expected. I idled those days away with ice-cream and plum crumble using a pound of Sundae's garden plums; mastering the beautiful Icarus shawl pattern (in plum knitpicks Shadow) and toe up sock technique in parks and beaches.
I liked the Cambridge botanical gardens more though cause they had 'lodja putti' which i saw last time in a tea-plantation in Bangladesh. It translates as 'shy leaves' cause when you stroke the leaves they curl up so coyly- hours of fun :)

Night before last I stayed up til 4 finishing a luggy bonnet from Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting for my young Italian cousin who was going home. I fell asleep before finishing but luckily (for the hat) they missed their plane and so Fatima got her bonnet after all.

oh and some time pre-Bikey's wedding I experimented with yarn dyeing. I bought kool aid off the net but it was rubbish compared to those little bottles of food dye you get in supermarkets- the red one is Strong Stuff and the blue ain't bad. The green was feeble though- Mrs C's rejected big Wool just looked mouldy. But now I have the most delicious skein of deep purply scarlet which i wear round my neck cause it's so pretty!
There it is my pretty yarn, on an astonishingly lovely beach just outside Sunderland..

Friday, June 01, 2007

100% wools + silks- God bless the factory and charity shops

Abbu brought me huge cones of the most perfect Jayne hat yarns- pure wool but it feels quite rustic and in gorgeous warm earthy colours.
Sooo much better than the acrylic garish hats they sell for $35 apiece online.
And Abbu said they'd been lying around the factory for 10 years so if I wanted to pay him it'd be about £1!!! When I told him it'd be more like £50 if I was lucky anywhere else he didn't believe me.

After my exams today I stopped by the charity shop of silk medieval wedding gowns and picked myself up a lovely new blue silk skirt and bodice. Would've got both for £5 as well but my conscience pricked slightly and told them to check again though they'd already put it through the til. Then a horrid woman from the back came up and acted like i was trying to rip them off- and the old dears at the til looked horrified at her rudeness. Only £12 anyhow and I would have had guilt gnawing at me everytime I wore it if I'd robbed the charity shop. Cause I totally knew the skirt was sold separately and was just acting innocently like 'oh that price is too good to be true- are you quite sure about it?'. If the old ladies had checked and still believed it was a fiver for both, then my conscience would've been fine though so I kinda hate the back room woman for butting in..

ps a few pics of the bounties of the jungle my grandparents brought with them from B'desh..

Baskets and mini-bushels of lychee!

Humungous Spinach leaves

About a million mangoes..

Plus guavas and bangali pittas (the sugary syrup hard biscuit kind) and cooked goat meat smuggled through (!) And all this is before present time! Wow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Simple Knitted Bodice

You haven't seen the Coquette lace tube top yet which was my middle step from hats to actual clothing. Anyway I'm feeling quite accomplished having reached a new milestone in my knitting- and it's still less than a year since knitmedic first taught me to cast-on in Morrocco! If only I can complete a beautiful lace item like Icarus by late June then I can look back happily and marvel at my (and everyone else's progress.)

In other news:
The MuJew Knitters mentioned below are planning a wonderful cultural craft event so we can learn the traditional arts of our cultures- like henna or Jewish dancing (yay!) And of course a Knitathon! It's all to raise funds for Laura's amazing art project - "It is a two week summer camp for palestinian and israeli children to spend time together using art (theatre, textiles, photography etc etc ) as a way to work together and break down barriers."
My other great entrepreneural concept is to go into Jayne Cobb cunning hat production using factory yarns and sell them to the Facebook Firefly fans.

"Man walks down the street in a hat like that, you know he's not afraid of anything."
Wash, in "The Message."

It's apparently World Wide Knit in Public day on Saturday 9th June. I'm going to settle myself on a patch of grass in Piccadilly gardens with a pile of yarn, a parasol if it's sunny and my knitpicks if anyone wants to join me. I don't know if people feel shy about knitting outside- or if it feels like too boldly conspicuous a public statement. My knitting peers feel no shame in clicking away on buses and trains, accepting smiles and compliments from random commuters and old ladies. On the other hand my Arabic teacher did say it was freaky and she would kill me if I took out my needles again so perhaps there are some places (classrooms in my case) where knitting is not universally welcome. However that may be, a moment to collect together and demonstrate that the knitting and craft revolution IS taking place is always fun. Soon we will be able to make Everything (almost) and Primarky places will be made redundant.

There is also a mini 'street art' project I'm waiting to do- time and spray paint is lacking at the moment. When it's done I'll put up before and after photos but I don't want to use up my energy explaining it beforehand. Does anyone have a close up picture of the back of a gaudy bangali rickshaw?

ps. At the risk of making this post prohibitively long, we gave Knitmedic a yarn swift and wool winder for her birthday- but not before I wound up all my laceweight skeins. I was waxing lyrical and bursting to post about the wondrous, dreamlike ease of it compared to all the previous, hair-tearingly frustrating, winding experiences- where every skein would unfailing end in a dashed tangle. The "dashed" does, in this case, cover a much stronger expression)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Brief notes

In case I get to lazy to blog any more I need to note down two major non-NY knitting events in my life.

- the working to the bone winding green skeins of factory yarn to pass round campus in a ridiculously over ambitious attempt to guerrila knit the university trees and lamposts sweaters for Green Week. Sadly my holiday was booked for that week so I couldn't oversee it and don't know if it was followed through at all. Even more sadly my flight was delayed by storms so I could have gone back and tried to put the stuff up myself but vegetated at home instead..

- what was far more successful and beautiful was and is MuJew knitting. Because we were the MuJew Theatre first and, because I came straight from knitsoc and was always spilling over with yarn and needles, we had a knitting scene in the play - I'll type it up soon. And this cool knitting scene of us Muslim and Jewish girls knitting and chatting together is staying true after the performance is over..

Mel has become a pro and my little protegee- I can see her getting good and addicted :) And Laura is more like a mentor because I only found out after that she's actually done an embroidery degree and there's an article about her exhibition in this month's Fiberarts magazine. So amazing.

The MuJew guys were too macho to knit but not to request a hat, a kippah and a scarf respectively. I'm quite proud of the kippah cause I made up the pattern and it's way neat.

We're going to begin something together using Baghdad Blue Peace Fleece. This is the description of the yarn:

Baghdad Blue
Like everyone else, we are trying to find an appropriate way to respond to the tragedy of the Iraq War. One answer we have come up with is Baghdad Blue, a vibrant new Peace Fleece color as bright as the desert sky. We will donate all the proceeds of this yarn to two organizations in the Middle East. To our friends at Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salaam , an intentional community in Israel where Palestinians and Israelis families live together every day struggling with the realities of war and peace, and Seeds of Peace, a Palestian-Israeli summer camp based here in Maine.

There was the perfect ebay lot of 7 skeins all ready for me to buy but I got outbid ugh.

NY City= Insanity Part 1

Or insaknitty if you like painful punning. Even before we arrived Knitmedic and I ordered ridiculous amounts of yarn online so when we finally got to my aunt's flat she dramatically removed a cloth revealing a whole stack of cardboard boxes and parcels.. Of course we greedily opened up these treasure chests- piles upon piles of knitpicks yarns- merino style, alpaca cloud, decadence, gloss and other droolsome stuffs as well as some Bare stuff for hand-dye experimentation- and Sarah's delicious wool and silk laceweights. Photos of our yarn mountain will follow once I and Mrs C unpack.

I am also the proud possessor of Knitpicks Options needles- my own set of interchangeable circulars with their shiny smooth metal and pointy tips.. Now I am all set to make all the projects I've been dreaming of. Including not a few patterns from the beautiful designs in Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel..

1)I've cast on for (but will have to recast I think) both Eunny Jang's Print O' the Wave Stole using some gorgeous laceweight JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk Yarn that Mrs C spared me from her Sarah's Yarn booty. Young Knitmedic was alarmed at the physical proof of her online excesses and is trying to offset her extravagance by selling off what she can bear to part with. I'm not doing the centre panel going in two directions though- I'll spare myself the pain and it'll still look pretty going one way.

2) Casting on has also be done (and undone) for the Coquette Lace top from Fitted Knits using the shimmery shiny Gloss in dusk which I spent a good two days untangling as I doubled it and wound it up. I so need a yarn swift.

3) The Cranberry Merino Style has been set aside for the puff-sleeve cardigan also from Fitted Knits:

It's similar in some elements to the Knitty Forecast cardigan which I plan to make with the dark plummy Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Mrs C gave me but it's special all the same. And I lost the beginning of my forecast on the bus which disheartened me.

4) The Redwood Forest knitpicks sock yarn is such a rich colourway- I totally love it. I may make some Jaywalker socks because the pattern rocks- but I'm copying my sister on too many patterns already so I'll look around first. I got sock size dpns too in a soft tan Italian leather case- from an amazing shop i'll describe in part 2. Unless knitmedic blogs first in which case i'll just direct you to her post.

5) Reviews I read about Wool of the Andes seemed a bit down on it- but I really liked it. The colours are so nice and deep and the yarn is much softer than I was expecting.. I got contrasting shades so I can Fair Isle me some cool mittens. Mrs C bought me Folk Mittens for my bithday and it's such an exciting book- full of traditional patterns and knitting histories from all around the world. Like how when female students in the US first began going to uni they'd all figure out which lecturers would allow them to knit in class and they had these dangling cage things on their wrists to hold yarn so they could knit and walk between classes. Uni knitting life hasn't changed overmuch.

That'll do for my stash description for now- I'll add more photos later. I'll go into the exciting places we discovered in New York- especially Brooklyn which is a dream place- and maybe even get to the uber coolness that is MuJew knitting, in part 2.

ps. I kept wierdly dotting apostrophes at every plural. I think it's dying and going crazy as it does..

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Marvelous Muffs

Having got the previous post out of my system I'm a little exhausted now but am determined to persevere..

This week has been one of unusual coincidence- possibly destiny level but that might be putting it too high. Two days ago I finally knuckled down to making up a muff. I'd bought the softest warmest non-garish purple fur to line it from Abakhan's a couple of weeks back and settled on a nice cable rib for the knitting pattern. It's coming along beautifully-

So yesterday I popped by the Blue Corn (local organic cafe, see below) to see how knitting was going there and settled down to continue my muff. I met Sylvia, who happens to work at the cerebral palsy place opposite my aunt's house on Parsonage road. She was amazed at my making a muff- because she'd been looking everywhere for one for someone she knows who can't use gloves and needed a muff. She explained how she'd made one by rolling up a scarf and adapting it so it was super warm and advised me on the pattern. She also told me some nifty uses for felted alpaca- but I always feel sad about felting expensive yarns because it shrinks so small it seems wasteful.

We discussed the possibilities in muff manufacturing- providing them for the people in the home.. Maybe getting Blue Corners to make them or getting old jumpers hanging around the factory and putting them to good use. She says she does a local cerebral palsy newsletter so we could tell folk about it.

Today's student market is what tipped the balance into unnatural coincidence though. I suddenly beheld there a basket of delicious warm soft purple fur muffs! The girls at the stall had made them using fur from Abakhan's and they were beautiful.. I revealed myself as a wierdo and regaled them with the tale thus far.. I'd left my phone at home but that didn't stop me getting a photo- I went to the SU and got Jazz man's phone:

(The lovely Blue Corn lady founder of perhaps the greatest Heaton Moor institution)

I had many things to blog about which I will just mention brieflly because the moment is over.
My holiday knitting adventures included
1) Chopping off the muddy fleece from a lamb that had just been slaughtered. It smells and is still in a bag all tied up cause my initial enthusiastic attempts to felt the stuff weren't overly successful and everyone kept screaming like it was alive.. This was at a camp where I also tried to knit with hair - from a girl who'd recklessly been permitted to 'artistically' hack her friend's hair. Also not a success. I did however successfully spread the joy and needles around and at least two girls learned enough to make stuff..

2) On a more sedate note, after discovering how cosy and full of tea and mince pies and neighbours my LYS (local yarn shop) is, I was introduced to the even closer and cosier world of my local organic shop/cafe. It's the most wonderful place- I didn't expect such a warm neighbourly spirit existed these days.. When I first went with my aunt the shop owners were searching the area to find out why the old lady who comes everyday hadn't turned up.. He and his wife went to her house and called her neighbours and everything until they found out she'd fallen and broke her wrist. She was back the next day and I went round to her house too- got the grand tour of her photos and old furniture and stuff- she's a very witty and cool person.

3)This led onto my aunt (who needs a sobriquet) setting up the Blue Corn knitting club- we spotted one woman in there, Jan, with a knitted handbag, and accosted her. Turned out she does knitting workshops in Wool. Anyway she's one of our new local buddies and we now we can have tea and talk and knit in our homes.

There's other stuff like the stitch show at the g-mex and how I did a mini talk on climate change for a young girls' islamic circle and brought knitting to them as part of the Solution and how I left my Forecast cardigan on the bus which is annoying but otoh have nearly made my ruffly cuffs. Oh and I made lots of knitted hats (three but one I remade about 5 times..) and sent a couple as presents to our Bosnian buddies..

That'll do for this post- the main reason I was inspired to blog would make this post too long..

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Where is the wool? Answers below

Edited: June 1st 2007
Due to recent discoveries, about the bountiful nature of the factory, the acquisition of a wool winder and the glorious possibilities of Etsy, this list needs a little rearranging. The factory most definitely ranks above charity shops and abakhan's, and possibly even, for me personally, hobby craft. Though I realise in public terms the factory doesn't even count as a source and is only a personal indulgence of mine.

This post is long overdue I know- and it doesn't even touch on my holiday knitting tales- which include waiting for my chance to shear the fleece from a poor lamb that had just been slaughtered.. I didn't see the point in wasting the stuff- wool is pricey! I drew the line at scavenging leather though..

Ok i'll make a list of the places i know and say what I think of them- I'm totally biased and can't help plugging my lovely local wool shop
for being both the loveliest and friendliest yarn shop I know.

I'll do it from worst to best and then those I can't judge.

10: Longsight Market wool.
This should maybe go into the 'i can't judge' category cause i went there before i had much idea of wool except what i'd scrounged from charity shops and atia. But what i recall is a few bales of acrylic, overpriced plastic needles and dusty buttons, situated in a stall next to the fish. There were interesting garlands of ribbony stuffs festooned around and probably a few oddities but overall it couldn't really provide staples let alone be a yarn haven.

9: Charity shops and boot fair.
Check out your local Children's Society (my personal jackpot) or Oxfam, which has the goods though they are undergoing rapid inflation. Actually Didsbury's 100% oxfam got cleared out in a week and the needles hiked up from 30p each to 99p. The point is you never know- ask them what they have in the backroom and often they'll practically give the stuff away, especially at boot fairs. They are the real goldmine for equipment. I don't mean to digress but I saw these mean-spirited ebayers on Wife Swap not long ago and they dredged up a treasury of knitting goods for a couple of quid and flogged those nice wooden needles two pound apiece.. That made me mad as fire- those horrid greedy people.
(1/6/07 last time I went to Oxfam the needles had inflated to 2 pounds a pair. There's almost no point anymore- at least bargain wise. It's still charity and recycling of course)

8. Abakhan's in the Northern Quarter:
I know many of you go for this place cause it's in town and sells lots of cheap stuff- ie 500g of acrylic for £5 or smt like that- but I'm kind of a yarn snob I suppose and feel This Is Not The Way. Knitting is about so much about making a scarf cheaper than you could buy- Primark can supply better than Abakhan's.. It's about your handiwork being your pride and joy- and for me i like to find joy in yarn first. Any way it has some Sirdar as well i think and if you're a beginner or not specifically searching for Noro or Alpaca Silk you'll find an adequate selection.

7. Pop's factory.
This doesn't count as a public supply source but I was at first hopeful that my dad's little jumper factory could supply me with a endless yards of yarn in all the colours I could hope for. Well I was right and wrong- there was plenty of stuff but machine wool just wasn't the stuff after all and though my pa talks of merino wool at £5 a kilo I don't know if it would work out.

6. Hobbycraft, Stockport:
It's a supermarket of craft supplies so it will most likely fulfill your needs- but you won't get that feeling of coming home that a place that's owned by knitters and lined with shimmering yarns will give you. This place is functional- the Stockport branch is big and has about half a floor dedicated to knitting supplies. I go into it often and the prices are normal, it has quite a bit of Rowan and their pattern books, and I don't remember exactly what else they have but you can definitely get kitted out fine. Oh and it's next to Borders which has lots of pattern books and a knitting club on Thursday evenings. Singer and my lovely Wool shop are also just round the back of it.

5. Sew-In of Didsbury
I'm not sure where to place this.. I know this is just my prejudice because they weren't very welcoming when I went to their Wednesday evening club. As far as wool supplies go they are the second best in town as far as I know (my textiles student aunt tells me fantastic tales of shops that only ppl in the know like her have an entry into, where ppl buy dazzling silk wools by the kilo and i hope to be initiated in that world soon but until then this is all i can tell you..) And not all of the Sew-In folk are cold- one guy was affably telling my sis all kinds of thing i didn't understand about Noro and the Japanese v. Chinese dyeing process..

4. John Lewis, Cheadle
I went to the post-Christmas yarn sale and I tell you it was a treat. Bales of Rowan Ribbon twist, RYC Soft Lux, Rowan Spray, Jaeger Extra fine Merino and Natural fleece all going at half price.. First day I went after i whined my mother into stopping there half an hour on the way home. Next day a troupe of us went, and today we went again- though it'd been sucked of the good stuff by then. But it has a nice selection- and I expect the Trafford Centre John Lewis does too. They do workshops too apparently though I saw no place to sit ad knit at leisure.

3. Ebay and the cyber knitting world:
Cause nowhere is more local than your front doorstep. Explore as far as you like- Atia can testify to the promptness (and prettiness) of the stuff she had posted to her from Uruguay. I just bought my first ball from Ebay today- but only cause i knew exactly what it was and couldn't find it anywhere. Internet makes me over-cautious and indecisive- I needed this summer tweed for months to finish some ballet slippers and only just about screwed up the nerve to Commit to Buy. But i never find real-life yarn sprees a problem. For ethical yarns check out Peace Fleece - it's got an amazing story and I just ordered some so I can give a report on it soon. We MuJews are going to knit each other Peace Fleece presents..

Etsy is in another league of online yarn shopping. I judge from Knitmedic's stock of lustrous handpainted yarns made by talented folk at etsy. If you desperately need something specific and impossible to find you can always find some spinning dyeing fibre artist round there to do it for you at an entirely reasonable price. Also once you get good enough and are inclined to sell your wares that is the place to go. The buyers appreciate handcrafted stuff- that's why they're there.

1. Wool, 6 Market Place (Behind/ next to stockport market)Stockport, SK1 1EW Tel: 0161 480 3062
I've talked for too long and I don't want to hype up my favourite place- but it's worth hunting out and is so the ultimate haven. Any or everyday can be your knitting club- there a big table where anyone can come and knit all day- and Aileen made us pots of tea and coffee not once but twice last time I went. It's all neighbourly and cosy and pretty, and just how it ought to be- if I wanted to know what a nice pattern would be for my wool or need help I'd probably go there. You can get a student discount too- and they have nice Debbie Bliss Merino and Cotton DK in bargain baskets. Oh and Aileen does ebay auctions so you can save on p&p and pick stuff up at the shop.